Middlebury College to Take On the World's Toughest 21st Century Challenges

Middlebury College will be giving away a grant for every day of the year—in amounts ranging from $200 to $10,000—to support social entrepreneurship as it launches of its new Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Middlebury, the private liberal arts college nestled in Vermont’s Champlain Valley, was invited to join the Changemaker Campus Initiative—an elite consortium of leaders in social entrepreneurship education—in late 2011, after demonstrating that the educational experience on campus is a world-changing experience. With last week’s announcement of this large number of awards, the Middlebury experience is about to get even more exciting.

Ashoka’s founder and CEO, Bill Drayton, kicked off the Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s First Annual Symposium by giving the opening address in McCullough Social Space to a packed house of more than 200 Middlebury students, staff, faculty, and guests, including local high school students. Social entrepreneurs are those who “give themselves permission to solve problems,” Drayton said, and it’s up to the next generation of unwavering changemakers to address (and solve) society’s most intractable social problems.

Middlebury President Ronald D. Liebowitz presented both Bill Drayton and Acumen Fund’s Jaqueline Novogratz, who delivered the keynote address at the symposium, with the college’s first Vision Awards.

“The Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship (MCSE) will aspire to be a world leader in social change,” Liebowitz said. “It will offer young people and their allies an opportunity to take on the world’s toughest 21st-century challenges and make a difference.”

Middlebury will award 10 grants to recent college graduates to set the standard for creating and supporting 21st-century solutions. As part of the campus’ vision for change, the college eventually expects to award more than 300 grants each year.

Grants for high school students with innovative community-based projects will range from $200 to $500; college students, seeking systemic social change, will receive grants between $3,000 and $5,000; and recent graduates will be eligible for grants worth up to $10,000.

In addition to grants, the MCSE features two other interrelated programs:  a lecture series and training workshops (the first of which is planned for June 2012). Both programs, like the grant opportunities, are open to high school students, college students, and recent college graduates.

MCSE will be headed by Daniel E. Doyle Jr., founder and senior director; Elizabeth Robinson, operations director; and Jonathan Isham, faculty director.